Birmingham cleaner streets blitz is branded ‘waste of money’

A clean streets campaign which cost Birmingham City Council £20,000 to organise saw just three fines a week handed to litter louts.

And almost half of the 68 people given £60 fixed penalty tickets by environmental wardens refused to pay them.

The six-month exercise in Hodge Hill was condemned as a “waste of money” by MP Liam Byrne.

Mr Byrne, who launched Rubbish TV on YouTube in an attempt to highlight dirty streets and pavements in his constituency, said the cost of the campaign worked out at a “shocking” £300 for each fine issued.

He questioned the council’s commitment to environmental issues after discovering that five different departments are responsible for cleaning. They are: regulatory services, environmental services, highways, leisure services, and the housing department.

Mr Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill) lodged a Freedom of Information Act request with council chief executive Stephen Hughes in order to uncover details about the 22 week-long litter “blitz” which took place earlier this year.

Mr Hughes confirmed that only 37 of the 68 fixed penalty notices were paid and 12 people were taken to court for non-payment. Mr Byrne said: “Street cleaners are local heroes. But it looks like good people are being trapped in bad systems. How can five different city departments be needed for one simple job?”

“What’s worse is that the city doesn’t seem interested in taking on the selfish minority who make a mess.

‘‘City politicians can’t blame people dropping rubbish and then fail to use the law to fine them. Handing out three penalties a week in one of the messiest parts of Birmingham tells me the council is just not taking this problem seriously.

‘‘I want the council to get tougher with people breaking the law.”

A city council spokeswoman said Mr Byrne was incorrect to suggest that almost half of the people handed fixed penalty tickets had not paid the fines.

She said that although 31 people declined to pay on the spot, the council had taken legal action to get the money.